Advantages of Divorce Bifurcation in California

By Lisa Magloff

In most states, divorce can only be completed once agreement has been reached on all the associated issues, such as division of property and child custody arrangements. Divorce bifurcation allows a judge to grant a divorce before an agreement on all outstanding issues has been reached. Divorce bifurcation is allowed under California Family Code §2337 and has some advantages, as long as certain conditions are met.

Remarriage

Divorce bifurcation is most common when one or both parties wants to remarry. In California, there is a mandatory six-month "cooling off' period between filing for divorce and the time the divorce can proceed to court. If a divorce is contested and there are complex issues involved, such as a property dispute, it can take years to finalize a divorce under normal circumstances. However, couples can apply for bifurcation immediately after the end of the six-month period, and can be granted a bifurcation as early as three weeks later, allowing remarriage less than a year after filing for divorce.

Tax Advantages

Another common reason for bifurcation is to allow one party to file his federal tax return as a single person. According to IRS rules, you are allowed to file as a single person as long as your divorce was granted by the last day of the calendar year. For a spouse who is paying child or spousal support, there is a tax advantage to filing as a single person. Support payments are 100 percent tax deductible if you file as single person, although the recipient must pay taxes on any support he receives. Filing as a single person also avoids having to share tax deductions.

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Bargaining Advantages

California law favors bifurcation. A California judge is able to grant bifurcation for almost any reason, as long as there is no compelling and particular reason not to bifurcate. This allows couples to resolve their marital status before tackling contentious and expensive issues. This can prevent one party from holding the marriage hostage to effect a more favorable settlement. For example, if a man knows his wife wants to remarry, he may refuse to agree on property distribution or another issue, in order to prolong the negotiations and force his wife to give in. With bifurcation, the wife could get remarried before the property issue is resolved, removing the husband's leverage. This may speed up resolution of contentious issues in the long run.

Bifurcated Issues

In California, the court can also bifurcate certain issues in the divorce into two parts. Bifurcating particular issues in a divorce can end up saving both time and money, and the court may not need to go to the second part in some cases. For example, if spouses disagree on whether a family business is community property or separate property, the court can bifurcate the trial into two parts. In the first part, the court determines if the business is separate property or community property. If the business is found to be community property, then the court decides how to split the property in the second part. If the business were found to belong to only one spouse, there would be no need for a second part.

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Can You Get Divorced Before Separating Property?
 

References

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Las Vegas Divorce Laws

Las Vegas was once known as a divorce haven, due to Nevada's tolerant "no fault" divorce laws. Even today, Nevada requires just six weeks' residency before filing for divorce and therefore attracts a number of short-term residents for that purpose. The divorce procedure depends on whether the couple agrees on all relevant issues such as financial settlements and child custody. The Family Court at Clark County Court in Las Vegas deals with divorce cases for the area, applying the law under Chapter 125 of Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS).

Requirements for a California Marital Settlement Agreement

A marital settlement agreement, or MSA, allows two parties who are divorcing to craft a mutually beneficial contract to end their marriage. Courts in California and elsewhere favor settlement over litigation for a number of important reasons. Litigation can be emotionally draining, time-consuming and expensive. Settlements empower the parties to work out the terms of their divorce, instead of being bound by the decision of the court. For example, the community property statutes in California favor a 50-50 split of marital assets, but an MSA can alter that formula if the parties want a different division.

How Soon After I Get Divorced Can I Get Married in the State of New Hampshire?

New Hampshire's domestic relations statutes govern divorces throughout the state and give guidance regarding reconciliation. Some states require newly divorced people to wait for a specified amount of time before they remarry. This requirement generally exists so that either party may appeal the divorce decree if they so choose.

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